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ALE December 2004/January 2005 No. 315 : Next section

ALE December 2004/January 2005 No. 315

As a deskbound denizen of Cambridge's Shire Hall, I feel it important to try and get some exercise at lunchtime - and what better way than a walk into town for a pint? (OK, so perhaps the one cancels out the other in health-benefit terms but I keep reading that real ale is good for you, so maybe not). A daily newspaper is a civilised accompaniment to a pint so I find myself gravitating to those pubs which offer them.

The first I come to is The Mitre on Bridge Street. This has the Mail and Telegraph, neither my paper of choice, but fine for the sports results. Real ale availability has been somewhat erratic here recently though there's always at least one on the bar. Timothy Taylors Landlord is a semi-regular so if I spot it through the front window I'm usually drawn in. Adnams Bitter is also generally on and there's sometimes a guest beer too. The pub is due for yet another refurbishment shortly which might explain the current state of affairs.

Carrying on down Sidney Street and turning into Market Passage we come to "B", the former Arts Cinema, now a cafe/bar run by McMullens of Hertford. The sole real ale is the very pleasant McMullens Country Bitter. They also sell (at a price) Grimbergen Blonde and Brune; neither are especially distinguished Belgian beers, but still a cut above most bottled offerings. Better selection of papers here with The Guardian and The Times as well as the Torygraph. At lunchtimes this is a nice place to "B" as the music is restrained and there are plenty of seats, including some upstairs with an aerial view of Market Passage.

However, in terms of both beer and paper choice, the star turn is The Bun Shop in King Street. Here we have the full range of broadsheets and populars laid out in the "traditional" bar. You can also choose from four real ales, including Adnams Bitter and the one I always go for, Youngs Bitter - a proper bitter beer. Again, you can always find a table on which to spread your paper (I usually go in the cosy snug) and the ale quality has never been a let down.

On the rare occasions I've got time to go further afield, The Free Press in Prospect Row has not only a strong selection of papers but also the darkly delicious Greene King XX Mild. And if time is of the essence, The Carpenters Arms round the back of Shire Hall in Victoria Road also has the magic combination. This must be one of the most improved pubs in Cambridge and also has the wonderful Taylors Landlord on a regular basis.

Memo to other pubs. I'm sure I'm not the only person attracted into these pubs by the availability of newspapers. For a modest daily outlay, isn't it worth going down the same route?

Paul Ainsworth


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